Why I'll Never Buy A Used Game Ever Again

I like to think I'm a fairly frugal guy. I save money, I try not to use my credit card and I keep my dollars and cents in order. That's why when I want to buy a game, I usually go to trade in and buy a pre-owned copy of whatever I want. Today I'm here to tell you that I am quitting pre-owned games, and why you should too.

I know why people buy used games: because they're cheap thrills. You pay a lower sticker price for the same game experience, then trade it in when you're done with it to get cash off the next titles you buy. Simple.

But before you buy your next pre-owned game, you should think about who is winning and who is losing in the equation.

Buying used games to play in current generation consoles is fine, but much has already been said about upcoming next generation consoles like the new Xbox from Microsoft and the new Playstation from Sony. Patents, rumours and plans have emerged as recently as today that point to the fact that Sony and Microsoft are no fans of the used game market, presumably because they don't get any cash from you picking up a cheap copy of Skyrim or Bioshock from EB Games, for example. I'm not so worried about the big console companies here, instead I'm worried about developers.

My concern is that when I buy a used game, none of the money that I paid for it goes back to the developers that poured countless hours into making the game that I'm playing great. Instead, all of the cash for a used game goes back to the company that bought it from some random guy trading stuff in.

Game retailers buy games from customers for a fraction of the price they on-sell them for, meaning that the only people getting paid in the whole used game equation is the retailer, not the studio that built the game.

Just last week we saw the sad story of THQ, who after producing countless awesome games like Darksiders and Saints Row, would fold and sell of its IP to pay the bills. This is just one studio in a slew of studios that have shut down due to tough times over the last few years. I want to start supporting these game studios again, because more studios means more games for us to play.

Now you might say that buying games new rather than used is frightfully expensive, and to a degree, I'd side with you on that, but consider this:

Games have always been expensive. You might think that brand-new, AAA games -- especially those sold in Australia -- are the most expensive they have ever been. Not so.

In 1984, an new-release 8-bit title would set you back $50. Adjusted for inflation, that puts the cost of a game at $137.45 in today's money for a simple, 8-bit title. In the almost 30 years since then, game development has become a multi-million dollar process that requires countless developers, yet still the cost of a game in Australia has fallen to around $90.

Australia does have a problem with high priced games, due to a struggling retail sector, Australia Tax-style mark-ups and the cost of doing business, but I would still have no qualms with paying full sticker price for a new, in-box game from now onwards, because I want store shelves to be overflowing with great games, because those playing have supported the industry with previous purchases. If you really have an issue with high game costs in Australia, try one of the off-shore importers like OzGameShop, or tune into OzBargain for stuff on sale.

On top of all that, I want all the added goodies that go along with my game. If I have to spend an extra $10-$20 to get an online code or some on-disc downloadable content, it renders the point of buying cheaper used games irrelevant.

I'm Luke Hopewell, and I will never buy a used game again. Who's with me?

Do you buy used games?

Image: Alex Kidman

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    Moving from a 360 to the PC has kind of helped me on this little dilemma. Firstly, it's cheaper, but secondly I get the chance to buy some stuff (not as much as I'd like, admittedly) direct or put the money towards good causes (like the Humble bundles).

    Just on PC gaming - anyone have figures on how much devs get from providers like Steam?

      I would assume it's the standard 70/30 split (in the devs favour).

    I've never bought a pre owned game anyway. I think I bought one that was old and out of print that I couldn't find new anywhere, but that's a pretty extreme exception. It's partly because I have the money to always buy new, but these days it's mostly because even still, it's cheaper to import new than it is to buy pre owned from EB and the like. I'd also like the developers to get their fair share. They did the hard work, so they deserve it.

      Used game sales benefit pretty much everyone involved.

      The person who bought the game new, then sold it second-hand, has money back in their pocket to buy another new game.

      The person who bought it second-hand probably wouldn't have bought it new. They get to play the game for lesser outlay, and they are exposed to a developer's work that they wouldn't otherwise have experienced. The developer's reputation grows, and they may be more likely to buy the developer's next game new.

      The revenue the retailer generates from reselling the second-hand game allows them to keep margins lower on new titles, which benefits customers of new games.

      Who misses out? The console manufacturers. They'll get a royalty payment when the game is sold new, but are cut out of the equation once the game enters the second-hand market. So it should come as no surprise that all the pushes to block second-hand sales are coming from Sony and Microsoft.

        I never said anything about who used game sales benefit. Is this post even meant to be directed at me, or is it an argument to try and get me to buy used games?

        All I said was that I personally like to see (at least some of) the money I spend on games go back to the people that make it. I don't really care what anyone else does with their money or who they think should get a slice of it.

          I was replying to your remark "I'd also like the developers to get their fair share", with the point that more money in the hands of new-release buyers and more games in the hands of everybody benefits developers. As I read my comment again I hadn't made that particularly clear, sorry!

        Although you may be right about the 2nd consumer being exposed to the developers product, but the developer would have already missed out on earning their dollar from the 2nd hand sale so the developer gets no return. No return means no money for the business and no money for the business means the developer can not pay the bills. Unfortunately the developer can not run off of IOUs and Free Coupons.
        Being able to sample the developer's product is why they make free demos of their games and even to a lesser extent, places like Video Ezy and Blockbuster.

          But in the end this argument is a bit like the recording industry's argument about music piracy, that every pirated copy is a lost sale. The people who downloaded the song were never going to buy the song. Whilst I'm sure there are some people who prefer to buy second-hand in order to be the best Scrooge they can, most are going to be people who just weren't going to buy the game otherwise. The developer didn't lose out on any return because they were never going to get it in the first place.

          The counter-argument of course is that if second-hand sales were abolished these consumers would switch to being bargain bin purchasers instead, and just buy the game later when the price was discounted. The developer would get a smaller cut but it would be at least something.

          However to that I would say that in these days of ubiquitous DLC, a consumer may well turn out to be better value for the developer by buying the game second-hand, say, two weeks after release, enjoying it and then buying DLC once that is released, rather than picking it up cheap six months or a year after release when the DLC is also discounted (especially if, eg, the DLC is a map pack etc for multiplayer and the player base has diminished that long after release, reducing the value of the DLC).

            But unlike music we're talking about a difference in price not $20 vs free. The idea of a lost sale makes more sense when someone is actually buying the product cheaper somewhere else. I'm sure it generates a little interest in the brand but not in a way that generates a steady enough income stream (otherwise the PC market would never hit rough patches).
            It's not like they sell many games so picking up Mirror's Edge pre-owned doesn't isn't generating a new sale for t another Mirror's Edge game six months down the track. It's not like if I were to lend you my Green Lantern comics, where if you like them you'd start buying the comics new and keeping up with it.
            The extra exposure isn't usually worth it because there aren't alternate money making schemes like concerts and merchandise. DLC can almost fill that role but people throw fits if it costs them more than $5-$10, which really isn't enough to support development costs of the entire game (and ideally it should only cover the cost of producing the DLC itself).

            most are going to be people who just weren't going to buy the game otherwise.

            I've got to disagree with that. Walk into a place like EB and you'll be pushed towards used games. They successfully convert people from buying new to buying the second hand version for a $5-$10 discount. There are plenty of people buying pre-owned just because it's a little cheaper. Saving money is fair enough but with pre-owned games it's not enough money to be worth the negative impact. Honestly that's my biggest problem with pre-owned games*. They cut developers out of the loop so that players can save next to nothing while the store makes plenty.

            If pre-owned games were cheaper I might be able to get on board, but retailers have become so efficient at it that the system is pushing developers into a corner where the only ones consistently making any money are the ones who are willing to stop you mid-game and snatch as much as they can out of your wallet.

            [Edit: *Well, actually my biggest problem is that they turn retail game stores into terrible garage sales where used games are scattered everywhere on folding tables and you have to dig through fifty thousand copies of Madden '86 just to see if there's anything worth buying.]

            Last edited 08/02/13 9:18 am

    yeah same as used cars

      Good, everyone stop buying used cars so the prices drop for me.

    Why don't the publishers themselves get in on the pre-owned market and beat the retailers at their own game? Publishers could say "snail mail us one of our previous games, and we'll give you a discount on a new title" or EA could say "send us CoD and we'll 'upgrade' it to BF at minimal cost".

      That would require a lot of work (and money) from a publisher to arrange, store and resell games. That's why there is the retail market to have them do the work for them.
      Retail stores are getting the better side of it as they can sell the publishers game, have that customer comback months later and buy it back from them at an absolute minimun cost and then resell and a higher markup as used, repeat.

      Publishers need a middleman to sell their games which is why they may go down this route of 1 time activation of games.

      It sucks as a cusomer that we might not be able to buy used games at cheaper their new retail price but it makes sense to pay more to the publisher to fund future games then to fill the back pockets of the retail market.

        Unless the publisher forbids the public sale of their games unless under licence.

        IE: EB Games gets an Activision title in, the game gets sold for $70 second hand and a percentage of that sale goes back to Activision and the console manufacturer. That way It's just like selling a brand new game but at a much higher discount for the end consumer.

          In the US that is covered by the "First sale doctrine" and is illegal.
          I'm sure there is something similar here.

          However since this would be tied to the copy-protection on the game it would be illegal to bypass, although you are still free to sell the shiny bit of plastic.

        its only the high end publishers that are complaining, the ones that churn out the same shit game after game after game and expect people to keep paying premiums for the same rehashed shit.

        I say EVERYONE needs to go back to piracy vote with your wallet, stuff the greedy arse DEVs, download, hack, crack and play for free until the industry is back to how it should be, the customers are the clients they need to be treated better.

        Stop kissing the arse that bites you, developers dont care about the customer, only the money pile they sleep on after fleecing you.

        great games make real money (minecraft, terraria, FTL, hotline miami), stop buying into shit.
        the only reason i own a console is so me and my mates cab get together get drunk and play games, i dont want to have to cart my own xbox to a mates place to play my games, and then switch to his to play his games.

        downvote and flame away lemmings!!

          piarcy affects all...yeah sure, you can pirate a game so you can do the whole "try before you buy" thing but most people don't really care

          The games you said that are great and make real money have all been pirated (I can remember the dev for Hotline Miami was posting in the comments section on TPB helping users get around some errors on a pirated copy of Hotline Miami).

          Now back onto the point. I have purchased a few second hand games due to not being to find it brand new. With most games now (EA Sports games, WWE 13 etc.) have a one-time online activation pass and devs/publishers would get money back when a person would buy a second-hand game and then having to pay for a new online pass.

      They are, it's the 15 dollars you pay to get online access if you don't have the code that came with the game.

    Games are very expensive items that are not consumable, yet I shouldn't on-sell them? I shouldn't buy a legitimate copy of a game at a cheaper price?

    What about when I recently wanted to buy Fable 3 but couldn't find it new, should I have just saved up longer and bought a different, brand-new game?

    They get to keep all the money from every player when they get up with digital distribution and cut out the unnecessary middle-man. And when that happens and their profits rise, they need to pass the savings on to the consumer.

      if you cant find the game its the devs fault for not publishing it anymore so yeah buy pre owned in that case but if its only like a week old that's stupid

        Especially considering places like EB tend to charge new prices for secondhand games that haven't been out for long. If you're going to pay those kinds of prices for a secondhand new release you may as well just buy a new copy of the new release.

    You are looking at the problem the wrong way. The problem is in the model of game distribution.

    I do not see why I have to pay $90 for a game that I might play once for 15 hours and then never play again, or play for 2 hours and feel that it is too boring to continue. The money I pay should depend on the number of hours I play a game. For example, some people play call of duty for hundreds of hours while others play the solo mission only for 8 hours; it is totally unfair for these two parties to pay the same amount, especially when the former group requires post-sale services (servers).

    The industry must change how they price and distribute games.

      There's no way consumers would Pay-to-play for First person shooters. MMORPG's on the otherhand to very much that which subscription based servers.

      It shouldn't be up to the publisher or retailer to determine how much a game should cost based on each individual's amount of playtime. The only way it could work (and not very well) would be to smack a price per hour price tag on the game and sell it for 10-20% of what it would normally cost as a once of purchase.

      So every game with a timed subscription fee? That will work. A lot of gamers won't play a subscription based MMO based only on the fact that it is a subscription based game. I don't see pay for how long you play as a workable business model.

      This. While I don't want subscription based gaming, games I'm not sure about I'll most definitely buy second hand. If they weren't available second hand? I'd never buy them, I'd never discover if I liked them or not, and I'd never give the devs of these games I'm not sure about a second glance.

      Without second hand games, or the ability to trade games in, all of a sudden nobody will buy anything that isn't an AA title.

    Here's a radical notion. If a developer makes a great game, you actually don't want to on-sell it. You want it to replay it. You want to have it on your shelf. You want to say, "I own THAT game..." that's what great games are all about. We see maybe one or two of them a year if we're lucky.

    Buying used is no different than piracy.

      Except one is legal while the other isn't.

        Ban J...I got a feeling some one working on this already :)

      Dont foget Libraries Ted! Those Piracy Hives of scum and villany.

      Not at all...

      A second hand game market adds value to new games (as you know you will be able to sell it once you are done). This in turn may make you buy more new games than if you could not sell them once you are done. Piracy removes value from new games as you know you could get it free (if you lack morals).

      Also a second hand game market supports local retailers. Piracy hurts local retailers.

      All in all you comment is pretty damn stupid.

        Buying second hand removes values from new games as you know you could get it cheaper.

        I've been in a band that released a distributed CD and I would rather people pirate it than buy it used from a shop. Either way I get no money from it and I'd rather other people not profit twice from my hard work. Honestly I'm surprised that distributors haven't cracked down on it yet and threatened to stop supplying stores that stock a lot of second hand games as it hurts them too (and they are money hungry as hell, generally speaking).

        Libraries use a different sort of license, you will notice some even have eBook's now but they have to renew their license every ten reads or something.

          To add further to the CD remark, by pirating it people miss out on the artwork and layout which we also put a lot of effort into, so they don't get the full product. Buying used gets you everything you'd get new but someone else profits twice.

          I'm not saying that buying anything second-hand ever is evil, but it is no different to piracy in the eyes of the creator in any industry.

            How much DLC does your band sell to people who have bought used?

              How much DLC are you forced to buy with a game? Do you buy it because you want to further the experience and think it's worth it? I don't know, I almost never buy the stuff, but that's usually how I feel about it.

              Anyone who buys games second hand would buy second hand DLC given the chance, they just usually don't have the option. That really isn't any different than pirating HL2 and thinking it's okay because you you may buy HL3 if it ever comes out.

                LOL, you really have some bad arguments:

                "Anyone who buys games second hand would buy second hand DLC given the chance"

                But they don't so the devs make money.

                "That really isn't any different than pirating HL2 and thinking it's okay because you you may buy HL3 if it ever comes out."

                Thats just flat out stupid.

                  You make it sound like a bad thing that devs make some money.

                  I know it's stupid, it's exactly what you're saying. I was highlighting that, glad I finally reached you.

                  Wait, how am I saying its bad that devs make money? I think its good, and thats why I'm glad used games promote the sale of new games as well as the sale of DLC.

                  And if you really believe pirating HL2 under the justification you may buy HL3 is the same as buying a second hand game and the associated DLC you are beyond reaching.

                  The fact you said something stupid in your first comment is fair enough, the fact that you cannot realise it was stupid, even when presented with logical reasons what it was something else. Anyway, just keep pirating games and telling yourself its OK.

                I don't pirate games, I just don't believe it's any less ethical or ripping off the creator any more than buying second hand ones.

                Last edited 07/02/13 6:59 pm

          Yes and no: someone needs to be buying the game, CD, or whatever new - otherwise there is no second hand market. Also, the fewer new copies sold, the fewer there will be in the used market so the higher the value of those used copies (because of scarcity). Of course, if the price of used copies increases due to scarcity then it becomes closer to the original sale price so the benefit of buying a used copy decreases.
          The point is that a big used market for a game can only be a consequence of big sales of new copies of the game. Without that, there are no used copies. Particularly with CDs, which I believe have much higher replay value than games, if you want to make sure your albums don't wind up being resold, make albums people want to keep listening to.

          With libraries: renewing the licence is intended (according to the publishers) to mimic the degradation of real books which leads to ongoing purchases of books. With eBooks there is no such degradation, and thus to replace that continued revenue (or to gouge libraries, depending on your perspective - in reality, books last many more loans than publishers claim). For CD and game sales, this is equivalent to the disc getting scratched over time. Thus, it is already incorporated into the structure.

      Is buying a used car piracy? Is buying a shirt from a thrift shop piracy? How about buying things at a garage sale? All piracy?

        I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt here and assume you didn't think about that before posting.

        Video games are not essentials, they are a luxury item, you don't need them in order to live a normal life (nor do they leak oil when you buy them used). Selling your used video games on is no different than going to a buffet, eating all you can, then stacking up another few plates to sell outside to try and get some money back!

        Make as many excuses as you want, but don't try and say that you're supporting the industry any more than pirates, because you're not.

          Your analogy to going to the buffet is at least as ill-conceived as Dman's analogy to a car. A car or a shirt degrades over time, and so its value decreases. As long as the game disc is not damaged (which itself would be degradation over time, mind you) then its value doesn't decrease the same way, so there is a difference.
          However, if I were take plates out of a buffet to sell them then that would have cost the producer of the food the cost of the raw materials, plus preparation, etc. That cost would not have been present had I not taken out those plates of food. In contrast, when I resell a game the publisher only loses money to the extent that the person to whom the game was sold used would have purchased the game new otherwise. That is (loosely) equivalent to the loss the buffet provider suffers because someone to whom I sold the food I smuggled out is not hungry any more, and thus doesn't buy any food. The cost of materials and food production for that extra food is not accounted for in your analogy.

          All that aside, who says the publishers should be getting that extra cash anyway? There is no fundamental moral reason that they should be getting cash from every person who plays the game rather than every purchase of the game new.

            I can see where you are coming from with that argument, but all I really got from it is you can't compare a game/CD/movie to any kind of tangible item. The publisher may not deserve any extra cash, so why not just pirate it? Does JB Hi Fi deserve extra cash? Why? What makes buying second hand okay and pirating wrong?

              There were two points: One was that if you want to criticise someone else's analogy, you should come up with a better one. The second was that even though objects which have value by merit of their content are different to objects that are themselves valued (e.g. CD vs car), there is no moral reason why purchasing used books, CDs or games is wrong. What makes buying second hand okay and pirating 'wrong' is the difference in legal status.

                I tried and failed to come up with a better one, I'm happy to admit that and agree to the conclusion that you can't compare apples to oranges.

                Is patent trolling okay because it's legal? You still didn't answer my original question as to why JB Hi Fi deserve Irrational Games' money, either?

                  It has nothing to do with what JB Hi Fi deserves and everything to do with what the original purchaser does.

                  If you purchase something with the expectation you can later sell it (and it is legal to do so by the terms of service) than you deserve to be able to do so. By others supporting this (i.e. by buying used games) that original purchaser is willing to pay more than they would otherwise for new games as they know they can makes some of this price back later (which helps the developer).

                  If the people who buy second hand instead just pirate (as you suggest is equivalent) and subsequently there is no second hand market, the original purchaser of new games may not be willing to spend as much or even buy the game at all.

                  I reiterate, your comment is pretty stupid

                  That just seems ridiculous to me. I know this isn't really the argument at all, but from that it seems obvious to me then that if new prices dropped and stores lost the right to sell second hand games then it'd be win-win for both the consumer and the developer? Or perhaps the developer gets piss all from each sale already, with most going to the publisher/distributor/store, and you really don't give a shit as long as your concious is clear and you can play your game?

                  EDIT PS- I'm not willing to be paying more so you can buy second hand.

                  Last edited 07/02/13 6:05 pm

                  How can you miss the point so badly?

                  It has nothing to do with you being willing to paying more so I can buy second hand. You are willing to pay more because you can get some of price that back when you sell.

                  I just don't think that games cost what they do just so you can sell them again, this is further proven by the fact that PC games cost the same as console games in store despite PC gamers not having the option to sell them back. This will further be proven when your little consoles can no longer play second hand games and you don't see a price drop.

                  Yes PC games can't be resold, but they are cheaper... not sure you you are bringing that up, if anything that proves what I am saying?

                  Also its not my "little console" not sure where you got that from. I don't own a console, I own a PC.

                  Actually there are other big difference between buying used games and pirating them. With used games, the number of used copies in circulation can never exceed the number of new copies purchased. Every used copy was once purchased as a new copy. In pirating, there only ever need to be one new copy sold, and every other copy can be a duplicate of that. Second, supply and demand apply to new and used games, which means that price is affected by availability; for pirates games, there is an effectively unlimited supply. Third, there is a lag between a game being released and it becoming available used. For some (few) copies, that lag may be very small. For others, it will be quite a bit longer. For pirate games, the only lag is the time taken to crack the copy protection: there is no need to wait for someone to finish/get bored of the game before it can be passed onto someone else.

                  The reason why JB, EB Games, or anyone else 'deserves' the money is because they are the ones operating the used game market. The publishers are likewise free to open their own used games markets and thus make money on that process.

                  As unlike as games and cars may be, there is actually not as big a difference between avoiding used game sales and used car sales. In each case, there has been an initial outlay by the company to design and produce something. It has then been sold. The owner has decided it is no longer of value to them, and is selling it on. Toyota, or EA, needs to incorporate into their original sale price the cost of production such that they will make their money back (plus profit) on new sales. If I decide I'm bored of my car after a week and sell it to a used car dealer, who then onsells it, why should Toyota get a cut? They didn't do any additional work - that work was done by the used car dealer. The same applies here. Games do decrease in value over time; they become outdated, don't look as good as new games, and generally miss the zeitgeist. It isn't wear and tear, but it is devaluation.

                  If you really want to get back to the heart of people being paid for each person who used their product, then then it should be the developers getting the money each time, not the publishers. When there is discussion of artists being paid a cut each time their painting is sold on, it isn't a discussion about the person who commissioned the painting getting a cut.

                  Well put. You have convinced me to a point, I will concede that it's not quite as bad as piracy for those reasons, though for the small saving made I still see used games sales as unethical.

          I think you're the one who didn't think before posting.

          Video games are not essentials, they are a luxury item, you don't need them in order to live a normal life (nor do they leak oil when you buy them used).

          A car is also not an essential, neither is a shirt or things you'll likely find at a garage sale. And sure,some used cars would leak oil, just the same way as some used games might have scratched disks, missing manuals, damaged packaging, etc.

          Assuming you have a car, what will you do with it when it's time to get a new one? I would presume you would either sell it or trade it in, right? According to your rationale, wouldn't that make you a pirate too?

          Also, your video game/buffet analogy is fallacious. A more accurate analogy to selling used video games would be if you went to a buffet, ate all you can, then went outside, vomited it back up, and tried to sell that. Your version of the analogy would be like buying a video game, playing it, then going back to the store, steal a whole bunch of games, and sell them.

            A shirt isn't an essential item? I would even argue that a car is essential for a lot of people. Certainly a lot more so than a manual is to enjoying modern games. Either way, I have already agreed with gnoshi that you can't really make the comparison anyway, so I don't understand the point you're trying to make.

            If playing a second hand game really is the equivalent to eating pre-digested food I don't know why you'd put yourself through it, though..

              What about the rental option? Music gets played on the radio. I like the music I buy the album/single. Where is the try before you buy for games? What about when you buy a game and realize that like most games these days its crap, you want to get some of your money back? Why should the consumer be punished because the Devs CBF doing a Beta test?

                Then rent it? Rental places pay MUCH more for a game/movie than you or I do with the knowledge that people will then rent it and they'll get their money back/make profit. Demo's also exist for a reason, failing that then wait until it's out and read some reviews if you don't want to take a gamble with a day one purchase. This is simple stuff..

                  I refer you to


                  Hard to see how rental would work in this situation.

                  If that happens to be how things turn out then bad luck I guess, it will just prove that it is an issue to those who make these games possible and if you don't like it you will no longer get the chance to play them. Believe it or not games are a privilege, not a right. I refer you to my last post about demo's and reviews.

              Hey, it was your analogy not mine, I was just trying to make it make sense.

              The point is, you can't say that buying second hand video games/CDs/movies is piracy, but buying something like a second hand car is not. If you buy a second hand car, the manufacturer of that car is not profiting from that sale either (and I dare say that a lot more money, research and development goes into making new cars than making new games).

              So why is it ok to sell/buy second hand cars but not video games? You can't have double standards, if you want to say that buying used is the same as piracy because the original creator of that product doesn't benefit from second hand sales, then that goes for any product. So I ask you again, what will you do with your car when it comes time to buy a new one? Sell it? Or burn it because no one should ever own the car after you because that would be piracy?

                And I already backed away from it and agreed that it was a pointless analogy, so why are you still wasting energy on it? This exact argument has been had countless times if you scroll down anyway, anything I say would be the same as what everyone else says.


        Poor MS is not making enough money.

      So I buy a used car, I'm committing piracy? What about when I buy some cloths or a new computer chair from the salvos? What about when I walk along the street and pickup a coke can to put in my son's school recycling bin? Or maybe going to the library to get a book! OMG!!! EVERY ONE IS PIRATING!!!

      Seriously ted, fess up, you work for EA don't you?

        Did you even read what I said? If you've ever read any of my comments on this site you would know that I'm so against DRM I'm one of the few PC gamers that adamantly hate Steam. It's people like you that force me to use such intrusive services!

        Replying to your post could really do no more than force me to repeat myself (non-essential, luxury items, blah blah blah), so instead, riddle me this- how are you supporting DEVELOPERS any more than pirates by buying a second hand game? How are you any better?

        There will be no on-selling for PC these days, and you console kids will be next and it's your own fault.

        PS- the "poor MS is not making enough money" argument is the same one that's used by pirates.

          The developers have made their money off the game. The developers, or more accurately the distributors decided at time of release, that a game is worth $X. They sell Y copies and make *X*Y-(cost of development and distribution). Plain and simple end of story.

          What you are proposing is that the developers get paid twice for the same amount of work.

          Despite what you say, it is exactly like buying or selling a second hand car. Lets say I buy a car, I take good care of it, polish it and keep it maintained. I then get married and have kids and need a family car.

          The manufacturer of my car has already been paid for that car. The money I paid for it, paid the designers and engineers, the miners who dug up the iron and aluminum, the people who smelted and shaped that metal, the people who put it together, the truck driver who drove it to the dealer and the dealer themselves.

          You would have me or the person I sell my car to, give more money to the manufacturer for the honor of owning their car. I would not have a problem with that... IF that money is distributed, in the same proportions as the original sale, to all the people who were paid in the first place.

          Otherwise, its just a case of a greedy, multinational company fattening its own wallet.

          To use your own analogy, I buy a CD from Sanity produced by BMI. It then gets resold because I'm sick of the same derivative music all the time. BMI charges a fee for the honor of having bought a second hand CD. How much of this fee do you suppose the artist would see?

          About the same amount that the developers who design a game would see when EA gets paid a second hand fee. Zilch.

            When you buy a video game you are paying for the experience, not the physical disk! I can't for the life of me think of any reason why the developers shouldn't get paid for two people having two different experiences with the same disk.

            A car is different, this has been established already.

            BMI are a rights management company in the US, they collect money from shops, pubs, etc. that have the radio or CD's on and distribute that money amongst artists. Kind of like APRA in Australia.

            Source on EA not giving any money to the developers? I would believe it since they are a dog of a company, but it would be nice to see some evidence before repeating it.

              I can't for the life of me think of any reason why the developers shouldn't get paid for two people having two different experiences with the same disk.

              Because the developers didn't have to do the work twice for two people using the same disk.

              EDIT - For example, if you were playing a CD at a party, everyone listening to that music would be having their own experience of it. Would you expect everyone at your party to pay for that experience? Of course not.

              Last edited 07/02/13 6:47 pm

                I'm sorry, I didn't realise that increased piracy amounted to increased work for the developers either.

                EDIT - That is precisely why organisations like APRA exist. Artists DO GET PAID for that sort of thing.

                Last edited 07/02/13 6:52 pm

                  *Facepalm* APRA deals with licence fees for playing an artist's music in public spaces (bars, clubs, shops, etc). Not what I play at a private party in my own home.

                  After a bit of reading it seems you are right, though I can say from personal experience, whenever I get an APRA check I like to think it does cover all kinds of public performance of any works I have covered with them (and to a point it does).

      That would mean then that Ebay is pirating.

      "Buying used is no different than piracy."

      Ted, while everyone is entitled to their option yours is the type that is better kept to yourself.

      I saw your comment about being in a band. You chose to be there then you chose to own the consequences and risks that go with it. If you have a problem with second hand sales then I suggest you change professions because second hand sales are a part of your environment and is here to stay.

      And before you even try and counter it, I am a software developer and plan to market in iTunes App store. What does that mean for me?

      1. I will only see first hand sales.
      2. Users also get updates for free, which is in the same league as second hand sales.

      But rather than whine about it, it is better if I work with it. That means I keep my first hand customers and they in turn will spread good word and insist that others also buy my product.

      So, to say that second hand sales is no different piracy is narrow minded and show little to know knowledge of how things work. There are even other in this thread that easily defeat your argue.

      First, you albums will not be published indefinitely. Thus years later when a new generation wishes to learn of your past hits second hand sales will be the only way.

      And through these second hand sales, they are more likely to buy any new albums you have.

      "I'm not saying that buying anything second-hand ever is evil, but it is no different to piracy in the eyes of the creator in any industry."

      If you cannot make up your mind where you stand and prefer to make self cancelling comments, then again, kindly keep them to yourself.

        I apologise, I am well aware of how second hand sales are destroying the open marketplace Apple tried so hard to create. Why, just the other day I saw a kid sell off Angry Birds after finally finishing it! Can you believe it?! You have my sympathies.

        I also must admit that I was not aware a 500kb update fixing a bug had the same amount of work in it that a whole program does, from now on I will always make a sizable donation before accepting any updates!!!

    It's a bit of a complicated issue this one.
    I have only ever bought a couple of second hand games. And these were old ones that would be hard to find "new" anyway.
    This is largely because buying a newish second hand game only saves you about $5 - $10. I don't see the point and would just buy it new.
    However, second hand games do help prop up the retailers who provide jobs. So in a way you are supporting the local economy. Something you don't necessarily do if you buy grey imports or buying online.
    If you don't buy second hand games and instead buy stuff on-line then we will see more and more video game stores close and the jobs go with them.
    It all comes back, though, to a broken model between developer, distributor and store.
    Something that is repeated across all entertainment industries e.g. music, TV and DVDs.
    These industries need to change if they are to survive. However, they haven't seemed overly enthusiastic to do that so far. And therefore the retailers are caught at the bottom end of it.

      I totally agree with labrys. I think it is poor form to promote buying from off-shore imports, they really do not help our local economy in any way shape or form, and in fact cost our local retailers greatly. I think it is important to support local business, even if it is a little more expensive.

        Deliberately supporting an outdated business model usually has a negative effect, actually. The nature of a laissez-faire system and the 'invisible hand' is essentially survival of the fittest. Good business models survive, bad business models either evolve or die out. When you consciously support an outdated business model, you slow the evolutionary process because you give the false impression that the market considers the outdated system to be more commercially viable than it is, which delays that business from effecting changes in their model.

        Online shopping is a good example. The natural reaction of a business to dropping sales figures caused by people moving their patronage to online shops is to either compete with a similar business model (eg. open their own online shop operating in Australia) or develop an even more alluring business model. But as long as people continue to shop at their bricks and mortar store, not because it's best for them but simply to 'prop up local business', they lose their impetus for change, and when it finally does come time to update their business model, they're so far behind the leading edge that it's much more difficult to catch up. Harvey Norman is a prime example.

        It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best thing for the business sector as a whole is for customers to act on their own interests and not on the assumed interests of businesses. Sustaining an outdated business model just so some people can keep their jobs is essentially trying to push back against the march of progress. You wouldn't argue that coal power plants should continue to be used instead of cleaner and more efficient energy sources just because 'otherwise all those coal miners would become unemployed', so why apply the same logic to the retail sector?

        Don't be deceived by campaigns of 'buy local' or 'support your local retailer'. They're the product of businesses who either don't want to or don't know how to evolve to stay competitive.

        Last edited 08/02/13 11:23 am


    I assume you only buy new cares based on this moral stance... The major manufacturers see no cut of second hand car sales, and god knows the automotive industry really needs all the help it can get.

    To further this I guess you should never buy any item second hand as the original designer/creator will not see any profit from the sale?

      Actually the automotive industry makes its real $ out of servicing and parts. The demise of the local servo doing repairs has BOOSTED that industry.

        And DLC is still sold for second hand games, BOOSTING that industry.

        I am not saying second hand cars should not be sold... I am saying second hand games should.

      eb are the dodgy 2nd hand car dealers buying cheap selling high, any body who does business with them probably paying on credit isnt thinking about where their money actually goes. 2nd hand off ebay or trading post is fair enough but really trading a stack of games for pennies towards a console isnt charitable favour eb are raping you

    While I'm totally on-board with supporting developers by buying new games, sometimes there's something I wanna play that has been out for ages and I'm only interested if I can get it for cheap. I pay the big prices (local store prices o.0) for things I'm really excited about, especially if I wanna pick it up on the actual release day, but if it's a game I'm uncertain I'll even play to completion then I think it's fine to chuck some $ to someone on eBay who's done with it.

    Although personally I'm also not the sort of person to on sell things from my collection. I like being able to see all the random stuff I've played.

      Just want to add; With how there is DLC for pretty much every game now, if I buy a second hand game and like it I'll probably end up grabbing some DLC for it. If I do, then I've contributed to the developer.

    Is it fair to use THQ as an example? I thought a lot of their money woes was because of that foolish udraw tablet venture.

    A uDraw for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 was released in November 2011, however, it was a major commercial failure, and is considered one of the main causes of the financial woes that broke up the company.

    It's probably also true that in '84 the games industry was tiny and demand in Aus was small. That is probably why games were so expensive. Now the market is huge and we have stuff like Digital Downloads. But even DD are still expensive here compared to the rest of the world. Ni No Kuni on the PSN is 89.95. It's probably about the same in stores. I don't know how they can explain that.

    I rarely buy 2nd hand games. If it is absurdly cheap or incredibly rare I might pick it up. Importing is the way to go for me. I haven't bought a game locally in years.

    You could use this argument about any second-hand product but most of us have owned a used car at some time in our lives. I am sure the prices of new games takes into account the strength of the market for used games, so thinking you are somehow not paying your dues is stupid. If anyone wanted to stop it, all they'd need isa EULA that forbade it, then they could prosecute companies like EB Games, which would stop it pretty damned quickly.

      I think RudeDude and MotorMouth make an excellent point and it's no different to a piece of music, furniture or anything else that someone has made. Once it leaves the hands of the creator it belongs to the buyer to keep, sell or trade as they see fit.


        Last edited 18/06/15 9:33 am

          Actually your analogy works with games too. You can buy the 5 year old second hand game, but in that time newer games will have been released...
          "It's been updated, has a new body shape" (New game engine, better graphics!)
          "no wear and tear" (Games can definitely get wear and tear, sure that slight scratch might not prevent the game from running when you buy it second hand but it might mean only the slightest bit more of a scratch could prevent the game from running at all)
          "better technology, better performance" (Again, new engines and companies getting more experience with hardware/it running on better hardwear)
          "more cupholders etc" (More features, improved online play, more maps, etc...)

          If you buy a 5 year old car or game it will still be an older model, with newer being released since then. Games can also get wear and tear from use, sure a car is more expensive to fix but it's also far more expensive of a purchase too.

        Except you have only bought a licence, not title to the game.

          If your going to use the license trick, under Australian law, that license is valid across all media types. IE. If I buy a game for PC, I have every right to download the PS or XB version without having to purchase a new license.

            There's nothing along those lines in Australian law. You can transfer between media for personal backup purposes, but you have no right to pick up a movie on bluray just because you own the DVD. But besides that, it's trivial to show that the version of the game on each platform is different enough to not fall under the same license.

    Whilst I applaud the moral stance, I wonder how is this any different from many other markets? For example, comsumers are free to buy and sell used cars, and you could argue that this in itself is contributing to some car makers going out of business due to potential lost revenue from new car sales. You could argue that we should all band together and refuse to buy used cars, so that we can support the industry and fund research and development to make better cars. It sounds ridiculous because it is. I really don't think you can rely on consumers actively wanting to spend more to help out the producer....this just doesn't make sense as a market force.

    Note: the console makers enforcing this stance via disabling the playing of secondhand games is a different story altogether, because it doesn't rely on altruistically motivated consumers to change the market. (at least until the first jailbreaks come out, and then EB Games and JB Hifi are back in business....)

      That said if buying 2nd hand cars was banned for example...Prices of cars would drastically come down in price due to more people buying new and a much higher competition.

      You either sell something for a lot of money once off...Or sell shit loads of items for a lower price.

        And thus, as we lose the ability to sell and buy used games, we should see a concomitant decrease in the purchase price of new games.

        Doubt it. They would go up. Car companies make lots of money licensing parts to after market manufacturers.

    I am 100% with you on this article! I find i tend to nearly buy all my games now days for full price and love it. I may rent a title here or there if i am not sure about the game. But if i enjoy it will buy it. This is most true with Demon souls...Rented it and borrowed a ps3....Then bought a ps3 the game in english and jap...Dark souls eng and jap as well as on PC...I also got there art book to just support the dev.

    Some changes to business models should be done to adjust to something that cant be change (or shouldn't be changed) you cant argue that second hand market was here pretty much since day one of trade and yet everything was working fine over the last '000 years.
    Selling something that you no longer want is quite natural 'life' cycle for the item... way around it can be lower prices / constant depreciation of the price for new items / remove the middle man for distribution ... its digital goods after all and internet is 'free'

    point is dont try to change whats been here for ages, instead look in to better adaptation

    My concern is that when I buy a used game, none of the money that I paid for it goes back to the developers that poured countless hours into making the game that I’m playing great.

    That's simply not true. Each part-time owner of the game has paid a certain percentage of the royalty from the original game sale.

    Say Person A buys a game for $100, then sells it back to the store 2 months later for $50. The store sells it to you for $70, two months later you sell it back to the store for $35. Lastly, Person C buys it from the store for $50 and keeps it forever cos (s)he's a hoarder.

    Person A is out-of-pocket $50, you're out-of-pocket $35 and Person C is out of pocket $50 - That's $135 total. So Person A contributed 37%, You contributed 26% and Person C contributed 37%.

    Of the original $100 selling price of the game, if only $10 actually goes to the devs then that means you've paid $2.60 to the devs, and the other guys have paid the remaining $7.40 between them.

      That's simply not true. Each part-time owner of the game has paid a certain percentage of the royalty from the original game sale.

      His point is, that 3 people buying the one copy of a game could have been 3 people buying 3 copies of the game. In this instance, the developers and publishers lose out. They could have sold three copies, but instead only sold one.

        Yeah, they could have, but there is a big gap between 'could have' and 'would have been'. Not everyone who downloads an album would have purchased the album were downloading not possible. The same thing applies here.

          I disagree with that analogy. There's a big difference between downloading an album for nothing, and paying $5 less for a video game because someone else owned it. It would have been accurate to compare downloading an album to downloading a (pirated) game, but that's not what we're talking about. We're talking about someone buying a used copy of a game because it's 5 bucks cheaper than a brand new copy. Because the price gap between brand new games and used games is so small, it stands to reason that if used games were not available, the majority (not all) of those people would have probably (not definitely) bought a copy brand new.

          If the difference in price between a new and used game was something like 50%, you may have also had a point, but in most cases it's not. It's 5-10 bucks at most.

          Last edited 07/02/13 5:00 pm

            I agree there is a difference between downloading an album for nothing, and paying $5 less for a game: the point was, though, that there is a gap between 'potential' purchases and 'actual' purchases. On an $80 game, $5 is just over 6%: not an inconsequential amount, and enough that people may go to one store over another for that difference (but they may not). I simply don't believe it is fair to assume that all those people who buy a used copy of a game would have purchased a new copy had the used copy not been available.

        That's were economics come in - the second-hand games market effectively pushes up the price of the first sale. Person A pays more than they ordinarily would be prepared to, as they know they can sell it on. The market price for the game is actually $50 - the price that person A has bourne (well a little over, considering every game is not resold). The publishers overprice, taking the second hand market into account. If resales were stopped, sales of first hand games are likely to drop (as the resale value is lost, so they're effectively more expensive). To get sales flowing, (with no resales), the prices would have to be dropped dramatically. No-one complains about the resale value of mobile games, as they're so cheap to begin with.

        Essentially, with or without resales, people are likely to continue spending a similar amount on new games (whether it is few people buying expensive games or many buying cheaper ones)..

        Only if you assume buyers have infinite money. But in the real world, most people have limited entertainment budgets, and cheaper net costs means more available money to buy more games.

        If a buyer pays $100 for a new game, then sells it 3 weeks later for $50, he now has $50 he can buy a second game with. If he can't sell that game, he's less likely to buy more games.

        But the dev wouldn't have got the three sales because the 2nd & 3rd buyers wouldn't have paid full price for a copy of the game - they didn't want it badly enough to warrant the $100 outlay but could justify it at $50 & $35 respectively. So, the dev has lost nothing, but possibly gained reputation & new fans, leading to improved future employment or money making ability.

        possibly. But it's just as likely that all 3 would say "$100 for a game? F that!" and go by Bejeweled instead. In the end it's all moot. The reason I won't be buying second hand games in the future is because it won't be possible - see PS4, XBox 360.11 for workgroups.

    I'd rather give developers my cash rather than smelly stores, but they have to play ball too and reduce the price of the games to what people are paying for second hand games - obviously that's the market talking.

    If publishers went Direct to Download, it would solve half the problem, and all the wasted space and plastic too.

      I agree. Eliminating used games reduces their value, so gamers won't pay as much - but the developers should be getting more of our money. The more I read about publishers taking the lion's of a game's income AND control of the franchise, the more I think they need to be bypassed, so that rewards are proportional to creativity and effort, not merely funding.

      Between Steam's agency model and creative pricing, and Kickstarter's crowdsourced funding, I'm hoping for a future where developers can make the games they want to make, and users can get more value their money.

    Your analogy is flawed. Take any real-world object: a car for example. The manufacturer/factory-worker only gets paid once for the car/their-time. It doesn't matter how often it changes hands after the fact - they don't get any cut from those sales, and nor should they. When a person sells a car to a used car dealer, they get only a fraction of what they paid, and the dealer marks the car up substantially before reselling it - that covers the dealer's time/investment-return/risk.

    Personally, I won't buy used games because 1. they're an unknown quantity 2. games are extremely cheap enough online 3. if I really want a game, I won't wait for it to be in the second-hand bin, I'll want it pre-ordered. It's everyone's choice though.

    Even using a car as an example is erroneous. We are talking about an item which does not degrade over time or through regular use, unlike a car. It would be more accurate to compare video games to books or movies. These are all products that are non consumable, and maintain 100% of their original value after the purchaser uses them.

    If I as a buyer chose to not keep my book or movie or video game after using it and I want to on sell it to someone else then that is my choice as the owner of that product. Why should I not be able to on sell an item I have purchased? It is the publisher's responsibility to produce something that people WANT to pay retail price for. If they cannot do that in an economically sustainable fashion then they will fail as a business.

    If a publisher makes their product a single or limited use item then they are significantly reducing the value of their product and I would expect to see a significant reduction in price to accompany that. I for one would not purchase a book I could only read once and could not lend to a friend; a movie on DVD that charged me $5 to watch it; one that could only ever be watched in one DVD player; or one with 15 minutes cut out of the middle that I have to pay extra to watch. There is a long established commerce model for non consumable entertainment (e.g. books, movies) that works, and has done for a very long time.

    I do not believe charging customers for video games under a model that resembles cinema, theatre, or the very dead video game arcade, is going to work. Not when we all have to purchase the supporting technology (TV, console, computer, stereo) as well as the content.

    Or how about instead of charging people $90 for a damned game and keeping it at that price for years, publishers learn to step down the price the longer a game has been out. If people didn't have to wait a year or two for a game they are interested in but not excited about to drop in price, the used games market could dry up.

    Say two months after release, game is $50. Four months, $30, Six months, $20, a year $10.

      Well that already happens. Except for big games like Call of Duty which sustain sales for almost a year, and Nintendo games which can sustain sales for anywhere up to 5 years, every game starts becoming cheaper after a couple of months.

    id be seriously interested to hear from a game dev on how much sales numbers actually play into money made for them and therefore if used games are actually hurting the dev, you hear more about metacritic milestones being the cause of shutdowns and game failures these days then low sales numbers, res evil 6 is a good example it sold well, better then they expected, i believe, but it got hammered in reviews and therefore has been hailed a failure by the publisher.

    but this is what i think is a point worth mentioning, you could look at it as a used game brought is a missed sale number and profit lost for the publisher/dev/whatever but it was likely that without the saving the used game had that the sale would never have occurred and the player would never have entered the universe your game lays out, which might just enthral them so much they buy every sequel and perhaps some merch with the cents they save next time, im living proof of this i wasn't overly interested in bioshock when it first came out mostly because i couldn't afford it even if i was interested, i basically had to pick one new release and it wasn't bioshock, some time later i picked it relatively cheap and fell in love, i now have infinite on preorder at full special edition cost, if the used game market gets wiped out by the next gen consoles i would never have played bioshock and wouldnt be buying the new one simple as that

      id be seriously interested to hear from a game dev on how much sales numbers actually play into money made for them and therefore if used games are actually hurting the dev,

      The developers in most cases don't see any of your money.

      The way it works, at least with most AAA console and PC titles, is the publisher pays the developer to make the game. So the developer gets their money from the publisher during development. The publisher then plans to make that money back, and then make a profit by selling the game. That's why they are in the business - to make money. They make an investment, and then expect to see a reward for that. Some developers/publisher deals might include the publisher paying the developer a bonus of sorts if the game sells particularly well, but that's not very common.

      Of course, if a game sells badly, and the publisher loses out or at best breaks even, that reduces the amount of available money the publisher has to pay a developer to make another game, so it does have knock-on effects as far as developers are concerned. It's precisely what happened to THQ, and Midway, and in fact most of the publishers that have shut their doors.

        this is roughly what i figured, which means thats theres only a few fringe cases where not buying used actually helps the DEVS, in most cases your helping the publishers not the devs and imo publishers are the devil :P

    I don't buy used games but i do trade them in... So I am still part of the problem. Rather than looking at a solution that harms the consumer why don't we look at a solution that rewards the developers without negatively impacting the consumer? Retailers should be paying fees for the right to resell used games.

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